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Court ponders joining AIA

By Staff, 05/14/18 12:10 PM

PRESCOTT – May’s meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court was a busy one.

It began with Justice of the Peace Bob Cummings talking about a meeting he attended in April concerning the Arkansas Intermodal Authority (AIA). Nevada County, he said, was a member of this organization before and it would cost $2,000 a year to become members again.

Daron Daniels, with the AIA, said it consists of six counties and eight cities with 24 voting members. The county judge, he said, could serve or appoint someone in his stead. The idea is to promote those communities along the I-30 corridor for economic development. Daniels said the AIA has a new website that’s about ready to launch, and it’s worked with a rail project in Fordyce and at Gym Springs. He pointed out the AIA worked to help keep Firestone in Prescott as well.

The AIA, he said, operates like a municipality and is covered under Act 690 of 1997. Nevada County could be grandfathered in as it was a founding member, but the court would need to pass an ordinance concerning the partnership.

Mary Godwin, executive director of the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office (EDO), said the county left the organization because of financial problems, but could easily join again. She said there would be no liability issues for the county if the AIA were ever sued as it has tort immunity like any other municipality. This, she added, would be a positive for the county.

Daniels echoed Godwin’s comments, saying the AIA operates like a municipality under state law and is project based. It does educational workforce projects, works with officials and would have properties in the county it could help promote.

However, the court wasn’t sure about its legal immunity and tabled the issue until its June meeting.

Going to old business, the court addressed the need for more storage for the county jail. Preston “Pep” Glenn said storage was overlooked when the jail was being built. The court asked specifics about the kind of building wanted. Glenn said he’d check with Nevada County Sheriff Danny Martin and get back with the court at its June meeting. Everyone agreed, though, the building needs to be air tight to prevent bugs from getting in.

Glenn said the jail will have 31 female inmates soon. In addition, the jail billed Hot Spring County $9,090 and was paid within five days. The jail, he said, is getting more and more calls on housing women and plans are to increase their number as the county would receive the same rate of pay for women the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) pays, along with medical expenses.

He told the court he tries to make sure the jail generates $1,400-$1,500 a day.

He also told the court ground has been broken for a garden for the jail. The garden will be worked by inmates and the produce used to help reduce food costs. Glenn said the jail has 95-100 tomato plants, five pounds of peas, peppers, squash and okra to be planted.

Debbie Henderson, administrator of the Nevada County Health Unit, was on hand to talk about a grant to paint the facility and get the floors redone. She told the court two bids were received with the higher one being $22,500, but including better flooring which would last longer. The other bid was for $9,800.

Nevada County Judge Mark Glass agreed a new floor was needed at the NCHU, saying it’s an issue there. He said the entire building wouldn’t need to be done at one time and could be split up so the county wouldn’t have to let bids. The court set a $20,000 spending limit before bids are required. Glass said half the building could be done now, and the other half later in the year.

The court agreed to do the project in two phases with Charlie Lawrence getting the bid.

Dan Callicott was on hand to talk about closing NC 406. While the court agreed there wasn’t any reason the road shouldn’t be closed, it was pointed out Callicott would have to do the legwork, which would mean getting the eight property owners in that section to sign off on the closing. From there, the closing would have to be advertised and the county judge would later make the decision.

Callicott argued there’s no easement or deed for the road, other than his deed for the property. He asked who would be responsible if there’s an accident on the road while his property is being crossed. He also complained saying the road is not being maintained by the county and has only been graded once in the last seven years.

He was told he has to follow the legal process for the road to be closed as the county can’t simply close it because he’s asking. The court, he was informed, has no authority in the matter.